Just another in a long line of examples (much to my chagrin) proving that while seductive, the bells and whistles of new appliances typically just open a can of worms that won't be replicated by opting for the barebones model.
Yes, it is striking how many stories we get about the new technology failing in standard appliances such as dishwashers, washers and refrigerators. Rarely do we hear about failures in basic functioning. Usually, the story is accompanied by an anecdote about going on the Web and finding tons of consumers experiencing the same problem.
My folks had a sears washer and dryer that lasted about 20 years and it did need minor repairs along the way. The gear box went out and they purchased an HE maytag which was a huge disappointment. It needed a repair every year or two at best. Flustrated with that set, they bought LG brand with insurance. No problems yet. But I thought they were crazy buying insurance for a washer and dryer. I have a 4 year old mid-grade washer and dryer that works like a champ with no buttons and LCDs and plastic tubs to replace. Noticed the newer high end units are more plastic than anything and parts are assemblies. Super expensive.
My DG308 Maytag gas dryer is 34 years young. I replaced the entire gas valve assembly when it was 3 years old at a cost of about $60 and although I was rather upset about it at the time, I've gotten past that issue. I've also replaced the blower wheel and gas igniter(s) when they've worn out. The companion washer was replaced with another Maytag in 1990 with a A7500. (the previous washer was leaking oil from the agitator assembly.) I did need to replace the motor on this "new" washer when it was overloaded by one of my daughters - the motor overload overtemp sensor would cut out too soon.
Other than replacement belts and the occasional pump (mechanical), they have provided excellent service. Would I see the same service on any of the newer high tech appliances now? I doubt it. With each of the technological improvements also has a cost reduction initiative associated with the advance.
But in case you get the wrong impression, I'm not a Luddite. I did replace a 25 year old GE dishwasher with a new Bosch model. The replacement has a stainless interior and was advertised as one of the quietest models available. The downside to the 'energy efficiency' and quiet factors is that it takes more than twice as long to run a load. It is quite easy to start up the new dishwasher in the wrong mode (quick rinse instead of full wash), but that I attribute to the design of the front panel and the complex operational setup. Hold one button for three seconds while pressing a 2nd button. - What would it have cost to add the additional button for setup? BTW, I've been in system engineering( both embedded and turnkey systems) for the last 37 years and remember times when code was entered through dip switches.
One problem that has become manifest since newer appliances have been made is that the manufactures make obtaining replacement parts difficult. Perhaps it is a legal item with the manufactures in a litigious society. Unless you claim to be repair personel, some vendors refuse to sell the parts. I've had that issue when replacing corundum igniters for furnaces. Its virtually the same as the igniter on a gas oven which they don't have problems selling.
Perhaps one of the manufactures will 'discover' a new service plan where once you pay for a repair, subsequent failures of the same part are at no charge (for labor either) to the customer. The repeat problems may still exist with cost reduced appliances, but the cost to the user would only be a temporary inconvenience..
FYI - Brother printers ship with full ink cartridges / full toner cartridges. I switched from HP / Epson / Canon and & quite pleased. I have both a Brother laser & wide bed ink jet - great printers & reasonable cartridge life.
Todays Sears is not The old Sears. So do not get too bent out of shape. It happens with most everyone. I can tell you a much more strange story.
A couple of years ago I had to visit Chicago for a show and conference. With my schedule I did not want to make early reservations and then cancel, so I waited to the last minute and then was not able to make reservations in a "normal" hotel. My option was Choice Hotels. So I made reservations and was offered a membership and a credit card, to earn points. Actually is i would pay with their credit card, I would get two nights free out of five nights stay. I applied over the phone.
Just a bit about myself, and you will see why !!!!! I came to US as a transfer student about 35 years ago and completed two schools. Married with grown kids, house, dogs, great job....... The American dream.
Now back to the story: About a week later I received a letter from the hotels card processor that I need to e-mail a copy of my passport or a Naturalization Certificate to provide proof of residence. You can imagine how I felt. I called the number and was connected to a very nice operator who stated that because may social security was issued to me after the age of 10, I need to provide a copy of my passport, even though they see an extensive credit report. Basically he needed me to confirm that I'm a Citizen of USA. As his speach was clearly not American, i asked him where is his call center. He replied: Singapore.
Isn't it funny that a US Citizen is required to e-mail a copy of his passport to Singapore to prove the he is a US Citizen to a castomer service abroad. Can you imagine that !!!!!
Obviously I politely told him to go to hell and canceled my reservation. Motel 6 was much more receptive to my regular credit card.
It is interesting how brand names don't step up to repair their mistakes before considerable damage is done to their name. They spend fortunes on advertising but refuse to spend literally a few more bucks to make their product reliable.
Speaking of disposable products - I remember someone telling me that they would buy a new printer every time their inkjet cartridge was empty. It cost less to do that than buy a new cartridge...
Greg, you'e right about the disregard companies seem to have for their own brand names lately. It could be that the pride in design and manufacturing excellence has diminished with outsourcing. The slipping sense of quality with brands like Sears and Maytag is surprising given the cost to build a name.
Not sure that even a simple machine is that great. I had a washer for a number of years that quit working. Being an EE, I did some simple tests and found the main (mechanical) timer / control was dead. Great, I thought, that's easy to replace. Except for the fact it cost amost as much as a new washer. Unfortunately, the "simple" replacement unit has a "shake the whole house" feature....
I have severed my ties with anything related to Sears because of repeated warranty and sales practices. The first happened when we had to replace an old dryer. We went to Sears and asked for the machine which was on sale in the ad. The salesman replied it would be about a week to get one as they don't stock that machine and would have to get it from the warehouse but.......he did have the more expensive models in stock which he wouldn't sell at a discounted price. Imagine that! In this day and age they are still using "bait and switch" to sell product.
The next instance involves a top of the line jig saw my wife bought me. Since it is a tool I don't use every day it sat in the garage for about a year until a neighbor needed it. He promptly returned with it saying the quick release chuck wouldn't hold the blade. I chocked it up to operator error and didn't give it a second thought until about 6 months later when I needed to use it. He was right, the quick release chuck didn't work. I took the unit back to Sears. Their response was it was out of warranty and they could do nothing. They could tell the unit wasn't abused as it was still in all its original packaging and looked brand new. The unit was $160 when new. The lost sales will cost them much more than if they had simply warrantied the unit.
TIM: Sorry, but I do NOT agree with your belief that CRAFTSMAN is today a brand with good products, let me explain:
I bought a CRAFTSMAN bench drillstand. After some time I finally opened the box and assembed. As soon as I started it, the drill vibrated badly, specially at the lower of its 5 speeds. Vibration was slightly reduced at higher speeds, but noneless objecionable for a new drill.
As i inspected it in more detail, I found the quill assembly had horrendous side to side free play, and that coupled to the gross vibration produced distorted holes... useless! (I had to resort to a handheld drill to finish my project, at least it made the holes usable!).
I went to the store and they informed me the warranty had just expired (2 yrs), and that "it was MY fault for not testing my drill as soon as I bougt it"...
The Problem was two things: First the stepped pulley on the chuck side was cast with an offcenter mold, leaving a side much heavier than the other. Second: the quill assembly is INTENTIONALLY machined way too loose, in order to "facilitate a quick assembly" (maybe by the unskilled too old or too young almost-slave workers in the chinese factory that produces the so called "CRAFTSMAN" drills!
As I did not want to sell my crap drillstand to an unsuspecting buyer in the web, I went to a Lathe shop, and ordered a steel bushing made to size and that removed almost all the play. A used pulley, similar to the original one took care of the unbalance and vibration. Finallya much higher quality and more flexible Gates rubber transmission belt replaced the garbage quality original belt with its permanent deformed shape, resulting from shipping the belt installed and tensioned, which produced a permanent "set", contributing to the vibration problem mentioned. Total cost: $57 USD ($50 for machining the steel sleeve, two dollars for small set screws to hold it in place, and five more dollars for the new Gates belt.) Against almost 120 dollars for a new bench drillstand from Delta, which, by the way, has about half the freeplay in the quill than the Craftsman!.
So, for me, I won't buy anything from Sears again, and some 8 to 10 friends neither too!. Amclaussen, Mexico City.
P.D.: The last CRAFTSMAN TOOLS 1/2" socket set that I boight had the chrome falling in the edges too soon and mediocre strenght, so that I won't buy another, even when they offer "lifetime warranty" in them, I don't want to bother with their replacement warranty. Years ago, it was a no questions asked warranty, now they want you to keep the sales slip for life. No more Sears for me (and my friends).
OK, you got me on the Craftsman products. I was more thinking about the warranty on the hand tools over the power tools. I consider the Craftsman 1/4" flat head screw driver one of the best tools around. For power tools, Craftsman is not what it once was. Porter Cable and Dewalt have stood up over time. As a supplier to them in a past job, their incoming QA was hard to satisfy.
I too am few up with Sears. A couple of years ago my furnace died. Being who I am, I got several quotes from different companies. I decided to go with Sears. They employ contractors who, according to Sears, work only for them, to help ensure quality. The 2 guys who did the work did a great job, fixed some other issues created by the previous home owner, and left me their information if I had any problems in the future. Fast forward to this summer. After several strong storms it was apparen that we needed a new roof. From the experience with the furnace, I called Sears. While they were more expensive than others I felt comfortable from before. Well, it's been nothing but a headache since. All I can say is the roof looks great. They left parts of the lunch on the lawn, cigarette butts all over the place, and enough nails to re-do the roof. After supposedly magnetically sweeping the yard, I still found enough nails to fill a sandwich bag. They came out again to clean once more, and laughed and snickered the entire time. After confronting them about it, I was ensured they got it all and we should calm down. With a 2 year old running about, nails in the grass is a big issue. Well, a month later we are still finding nails and they have nothing to say, nor will they come back out to clean again.
I've got a nice Brother laser printer that has a flashing "Drum" light. I figure I've got a few more pages then it's done. It's an old printer, but it's been reliable and I like it. So I price drum units and it turns out that they are more expensive than a new Brother printer of comparable capabilities!
Hint on the Brother Printer. It uses a sensor to see through a hole in the cartridge the "ink" level which when full would block the light . Take the cartridge out, cover over the through holes with small pieces of black electrical tape. Reinstall and keep on printing!
Some printers now ship with "starter" ink cartridges. These have less ink than usual and are designed to discourage the "buy a new printer instead" behavior. Good thing that replacemnt razor blades come in multipacks; otherwise Gillette might be tempted to sell razors with partially dulled razor blades to avoid undercutting their replacement blade cash cow.
Miele washing machine - 3 service calls seal, solenoid, water lever sensor in 20yrs
Miele dryer - no calls
Miele dishwasher - no calls, but hose blew off last year I replaced it, and I have just purchased a replacement bush for one of the spray arms
Miele range hood - no calls but the speed control resistor burned out last year - no longer available so I fabricated one from a near equivalent.
I reckon that is not bad for 20 yrs service - family size has been 4-5 over that time, three washing loads a week min, dryer only used in inclement weather, dishwasher ~ 2 loads a week, range hood 1-2 hours per day average.
For years I used to work for Sears selling appliances and home electronics, most electronics but I'm pretty familiar with the appliances as well.
Even when I worked for Sears I knew their service was awful, I never recommended to my friends or family members to buy products there. Keeping that in mind, it's important to remember that Sears appliances are not really Sears products. They are made by other mainstream manufacturers such as: GE, Maytag, etc. They just get the Kenmore brand stamped on it. If you look at the model number and go to another store (Home Depot is my personal choice, yes another former employer) you can ask for that model number and you'll find an identical appliance except the original manufacturer's brand is displayed.
Although Sears is giving poor service don't blame the employees, managers included. They are all just doing what the boss above them is instructing, albiet it's not a good business plan. Sears is a 19th century company trying to survive in a 21st century world, and they aren't good at it. The supply chain is very weak, half of what they display isn't in stock simply because they can't reliably get it to the store when it needs to be there. Sometime it's the low end items missing from stock, sometimes it's the high end items. It's not a bait and switch, it's corporate incompetence.
Bottom line, almost everyday I worked there I felt like a complete idiot to a customer due to some major inconviniece that I knew was unacceptable, but there was nothing I could do about it. So I request two things, if you don't like being shafted by Sears don't shop there, and please don't get upset with the employees there, they are just trynig to pay their rent.
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